Casually Elegant &

Decidedly Delicious

With every bite, our guests embark on a flavor-filled journey that surprises and delights, leaving them with a memorable dining experience that’s both extraordinary and exceptional.

Casually Elegant &

Decidedly Delicious

With every bite, our guests embark on a flavor-filled journey that surprises and delights, leaving them with a memorable dining experience that’s both extraordinary and exceptional.

Arts & Central, A Backyard Restaurant

Our Culinary Adventure Begins…

At Arts & Central, our story is a journey of dreams and a testament to family. Our vision for this restaurant has been nurtured over decades, and it’s founded on our commitment to creating a vibrant culinary community. We’ve dreamt of a place where food and drinks come alive with fun, freshness, and a refusal to be confined by any culinary boundaries.

Our story is one of exploration and discovery, a result of the Henson family migrating across the United States, Mexico and the United Kingdom, falling in love with the power of food to inspire conversation, exploration and pure joy. Now, we proudly call Sarasota’s Rosemary District home, a neighborhood renowned for its devotion to local artists, artisans and passionate, caring residents.

At Arts & Central, our menu reflects this journey. We offer innovative shareable dishes, modern interpretations of classics and carefully curated tastings in collaboration with local wineries, distilleries and breweries. It’s a culinary adventure that celebrates the essence of our family’s story, the richness of Sarasota’s artistic community and the joy of savoring life’s simple pleasures.

Meet the Owner

Dan Henson Jr.

Dan Henson Jr.

Dan Henson Jr. spent his younger years bouncing around the Northeast, the Midwest, Mexico and the U.K. On this journey, he and his family developed a passion for meeting new people, hearing their stories, and learning about their unique cultures and cuisines. 

After graduating from Baylor University with a B.A. in Journalism, Dan decided to move to Houston, where he worked for several Fortune 500 firms, climbing the ladder of the commercial real estate industry. While living in Texas, Dan was able to explore the vibrant and incredibly diverse restaurant scenes of Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, and all the small towns in between.

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After meeting his wife, Angel, and continuing to further their careers, the two of them would often fantasize with Dan’s parents about opening a restaurant. After a few years and some chardonnay, they had come up with the idea that would become Arts & Central.

Seizing the moment, Dan and Angel moved to Sarasota during the early months of 2022 to join his dad, Dan Sr., in the quest to make their restaurant a reality.

Through meeting several incredible Sarasotans, they found the perfect spot in a beautiful, historic neighborhood to open their culinary dream.

Dan Henson Jr.
Erik

Executive Chef

Erik Walker

Erik

A Florida native with roots in both New Tampa and Lake Mary, Erik Walker began his journey in a vastly different world – aerospace engineering. After completing his Bachelor of Science at Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach, Florida, he spent a year working in the realm of flight simulation. Erik then moved to California, where he was exposed to a plethora of new things, including a fresh new take on cuisine. Erik moved to California as an engineer and left as a chef.

In the mid-2000s, while exploring the vibrant LA restaurant scene with friends, Erik discovered a passion for culinary innovation and the joy of “playing” with food. Inspired by culinary visionaries like Heston Bluementhal and Ferran Adria, whose scientific yet whimsical approach to cuisine captured his imagination, Erik decided to transition from engineering to culinary arts.

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Erik’s unwavering desire to work internationally led him to secure a six-month internship in Devon County, UK, working under the guidance of Michelin Star Chef Simon Hulstone at the Elephant restaurant. Upon returning to the US, he continued his culinary journey in Los Angeles, working for the acclaimed two-Michelin Star and James Beard award-winning chef Michael Cimarusti at Providence restaurant.

However, Erik’s journey eventually brought him back to his Florida roots. During this time, he broadened his horizons in the hospitality industry, gaining valuable insights into the business side of restaurants while working for restaurateur Ed Chiles. It was here that he not only honed his culinary skills but also found love and started a family.

Years later, destiny brought Erik together with Dan Henson and his son, Dan Jr. He’s now thrilled and privileged to join their team as the Executive Chef of Arts & Central, where he can continue his culinary passion while creating memorable experiences for guests.

General Manager

David Gallagher

David Gallagher, Arts & Central General Manager
David Gallagher was born and raised in Connecticut before relocating to Florida in 1995. He developed a deep appreciation for the state’s beautiful beaches and favorable weather. David has dedicated his career to the restaurant and hospitality business, driven by his passion for providing exceptional service to customers. Alongside his professional endeavors, he cherishes his role as a parent to his children, who bring joy and fulfillment to his life.
David Gallagher, Arts & Central General Manager

Architect

Barron Schimberg

After a pandemic and a few years of searching and discussing this restaurant idea that incorporated a ‘Sonoma’ vibe with outdoor spaces, a backyard feel and creative, ‘just really good’ food, we finally landed on the corner of Central Avenue and Blvd. of the Arts in downtown Sarasota’s Rosemary District.

With 10′-0″ garage doors on two sides of the building, a covered expansive deck and an urban courtyard adjacent to other food establishments, the location gave the restaurant the energy and essence of what we were searching for and a wonderful opportunity to create a place that was both unique and homey at the same time.

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The central feature of the space is an open kitchen with an 'eating' bar. (The ‘drinking’ bar is close by) Patrons watch their food being cooked, hear the chefs engage and smell delicious odors emanating from the middle of the restaurant. The intentional design highlights our desire to create experiences throughout the restaurant, not just a place to eat.

These experiences begin at the entry bridge through lush landscaping. Upon entry into the restaurant, a wood trellis brings the scale slightly lower in preparation for the open ceiling beyond, adorned with delicately placed pendants, reminiscent of star gazing in your own backyard. Planters with live plants are strategically placed and tactile screens made of raw steel help to define seating areas. Acoustic canopies intertwined with string lights give patrons their own personal space without total separation from the dining area. In the end, the entire restaurant feels cozy and special throughout.

And secretly, but not shyly tucked next to the kitchen is the tasting room. A modern but rustic space, encased with wood planks and an oversized window into the kitchen. In the center is a 14'-0" live edge wood table and a wall of shelving displaying the imbibe of the day, subtly noted on the chalkboard wall allowing romantic descriptions and tantalizing cocktail ideas. All of this is meant to give one more experience to the visitor in the same way that culinary dishes continue to broaden our senses.

My favorite feature, the coup de grace from a design standpoint are the simple, but wonderful sconces adorning the walls. These light fixtures are not only artwork themselves, but also give the patron the ability to illuminate their area if desired and the waiter or waitress to engage with their guests in a playful and 'backyard' way.

We had the pleasure of working with the Henson Family, bringing to life their vision of a restaurant rooted in the experiences we enjoy as families and friends in our own backyards, but elevated with a creative, warm and sophisticated interior and architectural design. In the end, we achieved our goal to design an authentic place using materials true to their nature and spaces that deliberately interact to enhance the dining experience.

We hope that you enjoy the experience of Arts and Central as much as we enjoyed designing it.

Architect

Barron Schimberg

After a pandemic and a few years of searching and discussing this restaurant idea that incorporated a ‘Sonoma’ vibe with outdoor spaces, a backyard feel and creative, ‘just really good’ food, we finally landed on the corner of Central Avenue and Blvd. of the Arts in downtown Sarasota’s Rosemary District.

With 10′-0″ garage doors on two sides of the building, a covered expansive deck and an urban courtyard adjacent to other food establishments, the location gave the restaurant the energy and essence of what we were searching for and a wonderful opportunity to create a place that was both unique and homey at the same time.

Read More


The central feature of the space is an open kitchen with an 'eating' bar. (The ‘drinking’ bar is close by) Patrons watch their food being cooked, hear the chefs engage and smell delicious odors emanating from the middle of the restaurant. The intentional design highlights our desire to create experiences throughout the restaurant, not just a place to eat.

These experiences begin at the entry bridge through lush landscaping. Upon entry into the restaurant, a wood trellis brings the scale slightly lower in preparation for the open ceiling beyond, adorned with delicately placed pendants, reminiscent of star gazing in your own backyard. Planters with live plants are strategically placed and tactile screens made of raw steel help to define seating areas. Acoustic canopies intertwined with string lights give patrons their own personal space without total separation from the dining area. In the end, the entire restaurant feels cozy and special throughout.

And secretly, but not shyly tucked next to the kitchen is the tasting room. A modern but rustic space, encased with wood planks and an oversized window into the kitchen. In the center is a 14'-0" live edge wood table and a wall of shelving displaying the imbibe of the day, subtly noted on the chalkboard wall allowing romantic descriptions and tantalizing cocktail ideas. All of this is meant to give one more experience to the visitor in the same way that culinary dishes continue to broaden our senses.

My favorite feature, the coup de grace from a design standpoint are the simple, but wonderful sconces adorning the walls. These light fixtures are not only artwork themselves, but also give the patron the ability to illuminate their area if desired and the waiter or waitress to engage with their guests in a playful and 'backyard' way.

We had the pleasure of working with the Henson Family, bringing to life their vision of a restaurant rooted in the experiences we enjoy as families and friends in our own backyards, but elevated with a creative, warm and sophisticated interior and architectural design. In the end, we achieved our goal to design an authentic place using materials true to their nature and spaces that deliberately interact to enhance the dining experience.

We hope that you enjoy the experience of Arts and Central as much as we enjoyed designing it.

After meeting his wife, Angel, and continuing to further their careers, the two of them would often fantasize with Dan’s parents about opening a restaurant. After a few years and some chardonnay, they had come up with the idea that would become Arts & Central. 

Seizing the moment, Dan and Angel moved to Sarasota during the early months of 2022 to join his dad, Dan Sr., in the quest to make their restaurant a reality. 

Through meeting several incredible Sarasotans, they found the perfect spot in a beautiful, historic neighborhood to open their culinary dream. 

While at Outback Steakhouse, most of Ted’s time was spent in the Sarasota – Bradenton market, except for a remarkable five-year stint (2000 – 2005) as the Managing Partner of the Outback Steakhouse in Villa Park, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. During this period, Ted was honored with the prestigious Partner of the Year award in 2003, an accomplishment that reflects his dedication and leadership within the industry. Ted had the privilege of collaborating with influential figures like Bob Irons and numerous other outstanding individuals from the Chicago region.

Ted’s proudest achievement in the restaurant business is mentoring hundreds of successful leaders. This passion for mentorship is deeply rooted, as he acknowledges the invaluable guidance he received from his own mentors, including Bill Lahre, Jim Pollard, Bob Irons and Mike Harting.

Beyond his contributions to Blooming Brands, Ted’s career included a significant role as the General Manager of Square 1 Burgers and Bar in Brandon, Florida, for four years. He also enriched his managerial expertise during two years with the Hi Hospitality group in Sarasota, Florida.

Family holds a special place in Ted’s heart, with three beautiful daughters, Samantha, Olivia and Alexis, all residing in Florida. Outside of his professional pursuits, Ted enjoys amusement parks, reading and building with Lego blocks.

In the mid-2000s, while exploring the vibrant LA restaurant scene with friends, Erik discovered a passion for culinary innovation and the joy of “playing” with food. Inspired by culinary visionaries like Heston Bluementhal and Ferran Adria, whose scientific yet whimsical approach to cuisine captured his imagination, Erik decided to transition from engineering to culinary arts.

Erik’s unwavering desire to work internationally led him to secure a six-month internship in Devon County, UK, working under the guidance of Michelin Star Chef Simon Hulstone at the Elephant restaurant. Upon returning to the US, he continued his culinary journey in Los Angeles, working for the acclaimed two-Michelin Star and James Beard award-winning chef Michael Cimarusti at Providence restaurant.

However, Erik’s journey eventually brought him back to his Florida roots. During this time, he broadened his horizons in the hospitality industry, gaining valuable insights into the business side of restaurants while working for restaurateur Ed Chiles. It was here that he not only honed his culinary skills but also found love and started a family.

Years later, destiny brought Erik together with Dan Henson and his son, Dan Jr. He’s now thrilled and privileged to join their team as the Executive Chef of Arts & Central, where he can continue his culinary passion while creating memorable experiences for guests.